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improving Fluency to Increase Comprehension and Drive Student Success

Improving Fluency to Increase Comprehension and Drive Student Success

Teacher: Alexandre Chery
School: Mattahunt School

The Challenge:
Based on the F&P benchmark assessment, 66% of our students came into second grade reading below grade level. Many students, including those who scored at or above grade level on the F&P assessment scored 0 or 1 out of four points on the fluency portion of the assessment. While completing the MAP Reading Fluency assessment, 59% of students were unable to accurately complete the grade level oral reading portion of the assessment and were downgraded to the foundational skills assessment. We observed that although some of our students are reading on or above grade level, many of them do not have proficient automatic word recognition skills and do not read with appropriate rate and expression. As a cohesive second grade team, after analyzing summative and formative assessments and teacher observational notes, we noticed recurring trends of inefficient reading fluency which is directly impacting students’ ability to comprehend texts because so much time is spent decoding individual words and phrases. Based on first grade data, if 64% of the incoming second graders for the 2019-2020 school year will come into second grade reading below grade level. Given that 84.5% of the Mattahunt students are considered high needs, it is imperative that we ensure that all second graders are able to read an appropriate rate of fluency. It is our job as educators to provide these students with the right instruction, tools and opportunities to be successful. We know that fluency has a direct correlation with low performance on state assessments, graduation rates, and incarceration rates. Our project is focused on improving student fluency to increase comprehension and student success with reading.


What did your team do about it?:
As a team, we decided that we wanted to increase student fluency. In October, we sent a team member to the 3 day Literacy for All Conference in Providence, Rhode Island. We also purchased materials that would help support literacy instruction. We created fluency kits that students would use at home to track their own fluency data. In addition, we held a Literacy Night in January that trained parents on how to use the fluency kits and how to best support their children as readers. In February, we held a fluency camp where we targeted students who were reading just below grade level. This week was focused on increasing student automatic word recognition, expression, and reading rate. We also focused on comprehension. We also explicitly taught fluency strategies and practiced daily.


Impact on Students:
There were slight increases in the percentage of students reading at or above grade level according to the Fountas and Pinnell assessment.
We intended to collect the end of year data of the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark assessment and MAP. Since the project was primarily focused on fluency as well, we concluded we should have tracked “words per minute” as part of our collected data as a summative assessment.
The students were really excited about using their binders and graphing their own fluency data. A student came in excitedly over the weekend and showed me how she tracked her data everyday and that she practiced reading every single passage in her binder three times.


Teacher Leadership and School Community:
We learned the importance of going back to the plan(s) of action. Due to several unforeseen circumstances, mishaps, and roadblocks, we veered from the plan of action at times. We should have relied on the plan of action more to guide us through the process and keep us focused. We now understand how vital communicating our goal and expectations with all stakeholders is. We knew exactly what we needed to do and why but it was not clearly communicated to everyone. It is important that all stakeholders are engaged and informed from the commencement of the project (students, parents and administration). One roadblock was that only one teacher was able to go to the literacy conference when we had planned for four. Two teachers were on maternity/paternity leave. The materials arrived in late November, therefore we missed key deadlines and actions we had planned. For example, the parent literacy night in October. We made the decision to distribute the binders after the winter break because students would have six full weeks of uninterrupted learning and build the routine with the binders. The “Fluency Camp” did run but students identified who would have greatly benefitted did not attend or did not attend consistently. Students were identified based on anecdotal notes and MAP assessment data. Needless to say, we were also delving into a new reading and writing curriculum which required a lot of commitment. There were many interruptions but they were overcome due to team members’ commitment to the work and wanting to see this project through.


What’s Next?
The next phase is to continue the work with the fluency kits and spend more time analyzing the MAP results and audio. For example, after listening and a student who was on the left side (Foundational Skills), we concluded the student would benefit from direct instruction of reading that models phrasing and intonation. We also believe continued work with the fluency kit would improve phrasing and see changes in the students fluency rate. In order to deepen our work, we must meet and come together and analyze all students who are still on the left and identify trends then formulate plans for small group/whole group instruction for fluency.


Helping Others: